March 9, 2017. Our program featured Lafayette College Senior Megan Schmidt who is majoring in Engineering as well as Film and Media Studies. She presented her senior project which is a video documentary concerning the growing problem of hunger in Easton. Her interest in this subject began as she was volunteering to cook and serve meals at the Third Street Alliance. She saw hunger as an invisible issue.
Her research included 28 interviews with local people who are already working on the problem. There are 11 food banks in Easton but some have very limited hours. 2014 saw the formation of the Easton Hunger Coalition in an attempt to coordinate the food resources in town. Almost half of the students in the Easton school system rely on food programs in schools. Many seniors face a choice of buying medication or food.
Meghan’s video offers a three part recipe for hunger relief. The first part is managing our food surplus. Approximately 40% of food in the USA winds up being wasted. Surplus food from farms and gardens can be directed to food banks. The second step is to increase access of healthy food. 23.5 million Americans live in places known as food deserts where there are no reasonably accessible grocery stores. The Kellyn Foundation mobile food market is an example of bringing food to these deserts. The third part is nutrition education. Merely making this food accessible will not convince people to change their diets. They need to learn how to prepare this type of food. The local “Cooking Matters” classes are booked year-round. To help reverse the trend in our community we will also need advocacy, volunteers, funding, and perhaps legislation.